The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, National Agency for Science and Engineering (NASENI) Dr. Bashir Gwandu has called for stronger collaboration with the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna State for the smooth take-off of the permanent site of Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Development Institute (AAVDI), an Institute under NASENI. The institute is located within AFIT Complex in Kaduna.
The NASENI boss who disclosed this last Wednesday when the new Commandant of AFIT, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) S.L. Rabe paid him a courtesy visit at NASENI headquarters Abuja, congratulated the new AFIT boss on resumption of duty.
AVM Rabe came to NASENI with AFIT Provost, Professor Dauda Mohammed; Director, Quality Assurance, AFIT, Dr I. Yahuza and Director of Projects, AFIT, Group Cpt Ahmed. He said his visit to NASENI was to congratulate the EVC on his appointment as well as touch base with him on the collaboration for the establishment of NASENI Institute in Kaduna.
He said it was an honour and he looked forward to strengthening ties with NASENI to develop AADVI and also fast track the on-going work on made-in-Nigeria helicopter. He promised to work with NASENI and asked that AFIT staff should be part of trainings for unskilled talents such as welding, etc. “I am of the opinion that the AFIT staff should be part of the NASENI trainings to gain knowledge from the trainings.”
Dr. Gwandu informed him that he was barely two months on the job since his appointment and that he has been visiting NASENI Institutes to see what some of them are doing. “Surely, our work with the Air Force and the military establishment are areas that I want to focus on because there are some of our key projects that AFIT is championing and that cooperation is very important to us in particular and to the country.”
He said the main reason for having the helicopter and the AAVDI is for Nigeria to be self-reliant in aviation technology, noting that there will be manufacturing of components for the helicopter and other aircrafts that NASENI can produce. “We can train people to learn to produce the components. Like I said, we have been looking at different components of aircrafts in particular and how we can penetrate that industry.”
Gwandu expounded on the plans: “We produce a lot of titanium in this country, as we know the body of aircrafts in particular use composite materials which do not work with aluminum as we all know because of corrosion. One of the key projects I am working on is getting a team to work on Titanium.
“I have companies that I am talking to courtesy of your colleague at NASENI. We will work with what we have to produce some of the parts. We have Institutes like HEDI in Kano that produce hydraulics that is needed in aviation. We are trying to form a team that we can train in different areas of aerospace such as satellites, down to aircraft aviation.”
According to him, one of the key projects the Commission discussed on Airbus is the MRO in Abuja. “Instead of taking all our aircrafts out, we want to establish an MRO here so that we can do it here. Why Abuja is important is because it is centre of Africa. The distance to anywhere from Abuja is not more than five hours. It is the most central location and also not much rain activities as much as it is in other places”
On training on aircraft parts and systems including Avionics, he said NASENI was interested in developing that areas that were earlier mentioned. “We are just starting and we have to start from somewhere. We have to do something fast or else we will find ourselves lagging behind. Most of the advanced countries are making money mainly from high-tech that we do. We need to be there and compete with them. That is the thinking,” Dr. Gwandu added.
The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has already provided land/space for the construction of NASENI’s Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Development Institute, including other necessary infrastructures for the smooth take-off of the projects; and also to provide counterpart technical team during aviation equipment installation and test-running.
The AFIT is also to provide training on helicopter piloting, maintenance of helicopters and development of Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) plans; provide counterpart technical team required for hangar development and testing as well as provide technical team for avionics and reverse engineering of Dynali helicopter.
On its part, NASENI would work with AFIT on prefabricated structures/homes in areas where there is deficiency, provide technical team with respect to setting up AFIT’s Laser Cutting machine and automation systems.
The Agency will also provide counterpart technical team required during skills acquisition programmes, hands-on training workshop, seminars, conferences and other trainings as well as provide AFIT recommended science kits.
In December 21, 2021, a presidential order was given for relocation of the NASENI Made-in-Nigeria helicopter project to AFIT and also the establishment of the AAVDi within AFIT.